Thursday, June 3, 2010

Unlimited Paintball Poll in Review

Well we didn’t have a huge number of votes in our poll, which is to be expected. I’m still amazed we get more than a half dozen people stumbling on this blog every week as it is. To get as many votes as we did, knowing that the majority of people don’t bother voting is quite amazing to me. Thank you for dropping by and double a thank you for those who took the time to vote.

Now for the voting; a small sample, but a sample nonetheless. We had two categories on each side of the spectrum, with ‘no change’ in the middle. It was interesting that no one voted that there would be no change, but the vote was pretty much evenly split down the middle whether free paintballs would increase or decrease participation.

So what does this tell us? One thing it does is confirm that we, as a community, have very little understanding on how paintball prices affect participation in paintball. If we had a poll that asked if consumption of orange juice would increase or decrease if suddenly orange juice were given away free, we all know how that poll would go. There would be no question. But half the people who voted (actually slightly over half) figured that paintball participation would decrease either slightly or a lot, if paintballs were free and unlimited for participants.

If the poll had asked what would happen to paintball consumption/usage per player if paintballs were free and unlimited, I think we would all conclude that the average paintball consumption per player would increase drastically. But I didn’t ask that as I knew that virtually every reader would come to that conclusion on their own. So the question was really, “Would paintball participation increase or decrease, if the average player would drastically increase the amount of paintballs they shot?” Over half the people polled stated that participation would decrease. Does that really surprise anyone?

So what does the raising and lowering of paintball prices do for the average paintball player? Obviously, lowering paintball prices makes more paintballs available to the player and alternately, raising prices makes less available to the player. Free paintballs (the lowest possible price), are at the extreme end of low prices and makes the availability, unlimited. But before we get to “free”, we pass some other very low prices as we head down the pricing scale.

When paintball started over a quarter century ago, paintball prices started at approximately 25 cents each. Since then, due to competition by manufacturers and efficiencies in production by manufacturers, paintball prices have continuously dropped. In some instances, prices can be found as low as 1 cent each. 2 cents is not uncommon at all. If 25 cents is at one end of the scale and zero is at the other end, 1 or 2 cents seems to be getting pretty close to the limit of the low end. Unlike other commodities, whose consumption are easily understood with raising and lowering of prices, paintballs, and their relationship to paintball participation does not seem as easily understood. So what has the ultra low price of paintballs, and the resulting availability of paintballs, done to the participation of paintball thus far? I can only conclude, that as a community, we don’t totally understand and know. So was the poll useless? No, absolutely not. I think it’s very important for all of us to realize that paintball pricing does not necessarily have a linear relationship with paintball participation.


  1. I think unlimited paint would be OK if the hoppers only held 20 -30 balls and the people had a bunch of small pods to carry. Would slow them down alot I think and people would have a fixed cost for the day.

  2. What would happen if paintballs were free and you capped the ROF to 5 bps, velocity at 275 for rec players and kept beginner players separated from tourney?

  3. The problem is that even at 5 bps, players would still shoot over a case each per day, even beginners. We use stock Tippmann 98's, like many fields and most new players can't shoot them much over 5-6 bps, much what you are suggesting. Every once in a while, there is still the odd wannabe Rambo that shoots about a case of paint, even at $160/case. If paint were free, I guarantee you that almost everyone will be shooting at least a case of paint. Even with a group of first time players, if the average player shot over a case of paint, I know for a fact I would see less of those faces returning again. In the business I am in, I need to have as many of those players coming back and hopefully bringing lots of frineds. ANYTHING that prevents that is a bad thing.

  4. what would happen if, as a 'culture' we once again started emphasizing shooting SKILL over shooting VOLUME?

    If players paid a "social cost" (you stink, you're a lousy shot, etc) for using too many rounds per elimination, maybe more paint would be shot at the target range and less on the field....

  5. Crotchety, I don't thnk you can force cultural changes like that. You can wish them, you can even promote being good Ambassadors, but you will never eliminate yahooism.

  6. $160/case!!! I'm guessing you mean in Canadian$, but that is still $150US. Wow, that is really high. I'm more used to the $45US to $60US range. Even when I started playing in 1991, paint was usually $100US/case.